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Singaporean woman seeks justice from European human rights court over denied right to fair trial in Sweden

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This situation prompts reflection on how many foreigners may have been denied access to the court and appeal process due to this apparent bias against foreign individuals

SINGAPORE: In pursuit of justice, a 35-year-old Singaporean woman has taken her case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) after being deprived of her right to a fair trial in Sweden. Represented by her Swedish lawyer, Jan Södergren, she claims that Sweden’s legal system violated her fundamental human rights.

The ordeal began in March 2022 when she lodged an appeal against an estate division decision in the Stockholm District Court, Sweden. However, her efforts faced a setback when the Defendant demanded security for costs, demanding a substantial sum of money to proceed with her case.

This requirement was based on Swedish laws from 1980, in which the court decided upon technical grounds compelling her to put up S$102,394.80 (equivalent to SEK 800,000) in Sweden as Security for Costs. Unfortunately, due to anti-money laundering regulations from 2017, no Swedish bank, lawyer, or court could accept her funds. Consequently, she entrusted the money to her lawyer, Alfred Dodwell, in Singapore.

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Despite her significant efforts, the Stockholm District Court rejected her endeavours, deeming them insufficient. Unyielding, she appealed to the Svea High Court in Sweden, hoping for a more equitable evaluation of her situation. Tragically, her appeal was again dismissed on 14 November 2022, leaving her with limited avenues for justice.

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In a final attempt to vindicate her rights, she appealed to the Supreme Court of Sweden on 22 December 2022, submitting Alfred Dodwell’s statutory declaration and a new letter of undertaking to demonstrate her willingness to comply. However, her plea for justice was denied again, as the Supreme Court refused to grant her leave to appeal on 28 March 2023.

Throughout this distressing process, the Singaporean woman faced over seven objections to providing security for costs, including requests for banker’s guarantees. The system seemed impervious to her plight, raising concerns about Sweden’s lack of consideration for how a foreign private citizen could realistically comply with the court’s demands.

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The Swedish law enacted in 1980 (SFS 1980:307) stipulates that foreign citizens must provide security for the counterparty’s legal fees (Security Law). However, no adequate provisions have been made for situations like hers, where the ordered amount was disproportionate to her financial circumstances. Additionally, the Court’s reliance on arcane Swedish laws from 1936 concerning third-party pledges only added to the complexities she faced in seeking a fair trial.

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In light of these circumstances and the potential violation of her human rights, the Singaporean woman has turned to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), seeking their intervention and a just resolution to her case.

She hopes that the ECHR will uphold the principles of fairness and justice and address the inherent imbalance that has prevented her from accessing a fair trial in Sweden. She believes that this case extends beyond her individual struggle and is about preserving the fundamental rights of all individuals to a fair and just legal process.

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This situation prompts reflection on how many foreigners may have been denied access to the court and appeal process due to this apparent bias against foreign individuals.


For media inquiries and further information, contact: Khan Zhi Yan at khanzhiyan@gmail.com

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